LG L1981Q Review

DT Recommended Product

Highs

  • Innovative design; incredibly versatile; attractive looking; good color

Rating

Our Score 7.5
User Score 5

Lows

  • Controls are too sensitive; somewhat expensive
If there was ever a fashion show for the PC industry, there is no doubt that the L1981Q would be at the front of the line.

Summary

LG is thinking out of the box with their L1981Q 19-inch Flatron monitor. With design in mind, the L1981Q is the slimmest monitor we have seen. The L1981Q also has a number of innovative features such as heat sensitive controls, a neck that folds down flat so you can hang the monitor on the wall without removing it, and inputs that are embedded in the stand, not the back of the display. The LG L1981Q won last years’ 2005 reddot Design Award for this very reason. Those wanting a little style on their desk will find the L1981Q as the center of attention many times over. Innovation doesn’t come cheaply however as you can expect to pay around $600 dollars for this beauty.

Design and Features

If there was ever a fashion show for the PC industry, there is no doubt that the L1981Q would be at the front of the line. With its slim display (1.5-inches thick) the L1981Q is the thinnest monitor in its class. There are no side speakers and the AC adapter is built into the external cord, all in an effort to minimize its size. With a thin (1/2 an inch) black and silver bezel outlining the 19-inch screen, you get beautiful screen real-estate without having a lot of excess plastic floating around. The neck and base of the unit are covered by a reflective chrome-looking glossy plastic which helps give the L1981Q a very high-end look.

L1981Q ControlsThe base measures in at about 10-inches in diameter and is hollow in the middle giving the appearance that is smaller than it really is. We found the screen had very little wobble to it, if any due to its thick neck and large base. The L1981Q features a dual hinge design which lets you lower the base and then tilt the screen all the way back until it basically touches the base. This allows the unit to fold up so it can be mounted on the wall. Because the base houses all of your inputs, it does not detach from the screen at all and remains as one unit while it is mounted. The screen can pivot a full 360 degrees which allows you to change the screen orientation while it is being hung on the wall. The included ForteManager software will recognize when the screen is being pivoted and will change the desktop orientation to the corresponding position. The L1981Q cannot swivel at all, and the vertical height can only be adjusted about 2.5-inches unfortunately. There are three heat sensitive buttons located under the right hand side of the bezel, one for the menu, one for source and the last one for auto/set mode. The L1981Q has a native resolution of 1280×1024, a 500:1 contrast ratio, and a 8ms response rate.

The L1981Q comes with an analog VGA and DVI input and LG includes a DVI cable and wall mounting kit as part of the overall package. This could explain the higher-than-average price tag. LG backs the L1981Q with the industry standard 3 year warranty which covers parts, and labor and 24/7 tech support.

LG L1981Q
Image Courtesy of LG Electronics

Setup and Use

LG ships the L1981Q in an incredibly small box which includes a single handle for carrying much like you would a briefcase. Unlike a lot of monitors which are shipped in separate pieces (usually the screen must be attached to the neck and base) our L1981Q was neatly folded and taped into place (so the screen would not spring open when pulled from the box). We simply removed the tape and pivoted the screen into position. The AC adapter is built into part of the power cord much like you would see on a laptop system, so if you find the box a little too large, you should be able to hide it if you are creative enough; we didn’t think it was too much of a bother though.

Once the monitor was plugged in, we moved forward with calibrating it. As mentioned, there are only three buttons for adjusting settings, and they are heat sensitive to your touch. You have the main menu/OSD (on-screen display) button on the left, the power button in the middle and the auto-set button on the right. We found this to be a huge problem. The controls are so sensitive that we often turned off the monitor while trying to access the menu, or we would hit the auto-set button while trying to turn off the monitor – at which it would mess up our settings. LG should have put the power button in a completely different spot than the other two. We commend them for trying something different in using the heat sensitive buttons, but they were just integrated poorly.

Because of the L1981Q’s native resolution of 1280×1024 it’s not the best LCD for gaming, you would be better off upgrading to a 20-inch 4:3 aspect ratio monitor so you can get that utopian 1600×1200 resolution which gamers love. Other than that, we found that the L1981Q did a good job in our gaming tests. Because of its low 8ms response rate we experience little if any ghosting while playing the games Half-Life 2 and Call of Duty 2. DVD movies also looked great and black levels looked above average despite only having a 500:1 contrast ratio (those figures are often over-rated anyways). Text both in Microsoft Word and while surfing the web, looked sharp and true with good bright white backgrounds being produced. In our photography tests, we found the brightness to be somewhat uneven with some areas of the screen appearing brighter than others. There was no light bleeding affects on the edges of the screen like you would see on some laptop displays though.

LG L1982Q
Image Courtesy of LG Electronics
Conclusion

There is not doubt that the L1981Q has a lot going for it. There are definitely better deals out there, so keep in mind that you are paying more for a monitor that is unique. If you could care less about the way your monitor looks, or simply want a widescreen display, the L1981Q clearly is not for you. With that being said, we feel the L1981Q is different enough to warrant the slightly higher price. The touch sensitive controls are a pain to use, but such is often the case with emerging technology. Some people might also complain about the large external power adapter, but if you are creative enough, you should be able to hide it so it will not attract attention. The L1981Q really fits in at the home office or the desk of the CEO for example; somewhere where a 4:3 Aspect ratio makes sense and looks are important.

Pros:
  • Innovative design and features
  • Small footprint
  • Vivid colors; fast response rate
  • Includes DVI cable and wall mounting kit with price
Cons:
  • Inconsistent brightness
  • Cannot swivel
  • Limited height adjustment
  • Poor placement of heat sensitive controls